Fri, 09 Jun 2023

Raptors aim to get to even, gain on Heat

Field Level Media
28 Mar 2023, 09:19 GMT+10

The Toronto Raptors will try to reach the .500 mark for the first time since Dec. 9 Tuesday night when they close a four-game homestand against the Miami Heat.

The Raptors (37-38) won their second game in a row Sunday 114-104 over the Washington Wizards.

This will be the Raptors' sixth attemptto reach .500 since they were 13-13.

In the Heat (40-35), the Raptors will be facing a team that is above .500 for the first time on the homestand.

Miami is coming off an embarrassing 129-100 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.

Toronto leads the season series 2-1 over Miami. The teams have not played since Nov. 16 when O.G. Anunoby scored 32 points in the Raptors' 112-104 home victory.

In winning for the fifth time in the past seven games on Sunday, Toronto had 29 points from Anunoby, 28 from Fred VanVleet and 19 points and 11 rebounds from Pascal Siakam. After missing two games with a wrist injury, Scottie Barnes scored 13 points.

The Raptors are ninth in the Eastern Conference going into Monday and have a good hold on a play-in spot.

"I'm very, like, strict on basketball purity and rules," VanVleet said. "So I'm not the biggest fan of (the play-in), but we're in so we've got to take advantage of it."

The Raptors are three games behind the Heat, who are seventh in the Eastern Conference and still have a chance to finish sixth and avoid the play-in tournament.

"I think it just stretches the realm of reality of what the team is," VanVleet said about the play-in tournament as a whole. "It can create, you know, unrealistic situations for a lot of teams. I think for us -- a team that's been talented and kind of underperformed for the majority of the year -- I think we feel really good about getting in and getting to our spot and making some noise, but again, you still got to get it, right?"

The Heat have split their past four games.

"This locker room doesn't want to be in the play-in," said Tyler Herro, who scored 23 points against the Nets. "That's not obviously on our radar. We want to be in the top six and we feel like we have a great opportunity."

The Heat are trying to overcome recent defensive problems.

"We have not been defending at a world- class level the way we're capable of," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I've seen us defend with much better discipline, communication, precision and effort, and we didn't have enough of that consistently throughout the last three quarters (against the Nets)."

"Disappointing for all of us," said Bam Adebayo after he scored 16 points in the loss to the Nets. "It's one of those losses where you know it costs you something. But you still have games left to play. We are going to keep fighting. There's always another game to be played. You can't really harp on this loss even though it's one of those bad ones."

Adebayo feels there has been a lack of communication on defense when the team is tired.

"I feel like that's the big momentum shift," he said. "When guys get fatigued, we stop talking. It hurts us because we expect guys to be in certain places and we're not. I just feel like we have mental lapses when we get fatigued."

--Field Level Media

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